Cast your mind back to 2010. Digital gaming marketplaces are booming, and the titles available come in a wide variety of flavours. You’ve got experimental, retro and edgy games, that are making use of the new quick consumption model that DLC has created.
And then along came Trials HD, which for all intents and purposes, was a virtual calculator for whether our species would survive or not, based on it’s approach to forcing gamers to learn from their constant failures.
Fast forward to now, and you have a successor that evolves the base formula so well, it would give Charles Darwin himself an erection.
For those of you unfamiliar with the games, Trials Evolution carries on the same idea set forth by its predecessor. Mount a motorcycle, go fast, and get from point A to point B. Sounds simple, right?
Go into the game with that line of thought, and you’ll find yourself face-surfing some asphalt very soon. See, the catch in Trials is, is that gravity has more hate for you than a former super-model queen does for convenience store workers of a certain ethnic creed.
You’ve got to keep your bike and rider balanced perfectly, and that’s where Trials throws everything but the kitchen sink at you, in order to test your skill in maintaining equilibrium. Rough terrain, ramps, rails, pipes, explosions, hills, aliens…There’s nothing that Trials won’t put you through in order to see you fall.
And that, is where the main charm of the game lies. It’s not uncommon to find yourself fumbling through a track, falling flat on your face just so that you can reach bronze medal status just for finish a stage that was ripped straight from the imagination of Ted Bundy.
Sure, there are restarts and checkpoints along the way, but they have an effect on your overall score. And when you see the icons with your friend list whizz past you as face-plant for the umpteenth time, that’s where you’ll feel the drive to do better, that makes Trials Evolution so damn addictive.
It’s that urge, to memorise a track perfectly, to use the right bike for the right track, to spend hours memorising one stretch of dirt and it’s numerous hazards, so that once you beat it, you feel like you’ve made out with a living Xbox achievement.
Ding sounds and all that.
For a downloadable game, it’s amazing how much content is packed into Trials Evolution. You’ve got your standard racing modes, which are complemented by tournaments, license tests and wacky challenges which swops your scrambler bike for anything basically, from a rolling ball to a set of wooden wings, or even some downhill skiing.
And that’s where Trials Evolution really busts out of the warehouse, as the game goes even further with content overload. It’s not enough to just offer players a comprehensive and easy to use track editor, oh no.
New tracks can be downloaded, while the editor itself opens up possibilities to make a game that is more than just a Motocross simulator mixed with masochism. Race giant balls, play a quick round of FPS action or pilot a ridiculously unstable UFO in an homage to the Terminator films, the possibility is there.
Tracks can be uploaded,downloaded, rated and analyzed, while developer Red Lynx themselves are quite active in pushing out new, free content, or even recommending fan productions. It’s another fantastic facet of Trials Evolution, as the sense of community that it fosters is there, something that is truly felt when friends get together to race one another in the multiplayer.
Up to four players can compete in various heats, and watching one another fumble and fail while the more talented players watch on, is a priceless feeling.
Trials Evolution is so ridiculously simple in it’s basic design, that you’d easily mistake it for a lesser game, but nothing could be further from the truth. Simple to begin, and possibly impossible to master, the great thing about Trials is that anyone can pick it up and learn the ropes within a few minutes, before finding themselves stuck in front of the TV for several hours, trying to nail that one jump.
And it’s absolutely brilliant in said deviousness.
Design and Presentation: 7.5/10
A simple game, with simple graphics, that run quite smoothly. There’s still a few issues with texture pop ups and rendering here and there, but for the most part, this is a game where graphics take a backseat to the sadistic action that unfolds on screen.
You won’t finish Trials Evolution any time soon. I’d wager good money that some players might find themselves getting fed up with constantly failing and put the game down before they score a gold medal score on every track, but for those of you who stick around, the game has so much to offer.
Multiplayer, track editing and conquering the behemoth that is the giga-track, it’s all there, waiting for you.
There aren’t many games out there that can regularly punish a player and keep them coming back, but Trials Evolution just might be a master at that form of gameplay. If you’re a fan of smaller games with ideas that are biblical in scale, you won’t go wrong with this charming and quirky attempt at linear motocross perfection.